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Six free comics we can’t wait to get our hands on today

fcbd 2013Free Comic Book Day is once again upon us, the day that current and hopefully potential comic fans flock to their local comic shop to sample a buffet of comic choices from publishers large and small. There’s a lot to sink your teeth into this time around, from previews of new or upcoming stuff — like Marble Season and Superman: The Last Son of Krypton #1 to first issues of brand new comics — like The Strangers #1 and Aphrodite IX #1. There are original comics, licensed comics, kids comics, anthologies … basically something for everyone.

Some retailers will offer all-you-can-eat options, while others might have limits on what you can get … so if you have to make a choice, here are six comics we’re particularly looking to sink our teeth into.

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Quote of the Day | ‘We could literally kill Rick at some point’

rick grimes2

“I just think what he does is really brave. He really loves these characters as well, and it makes it unique that we’re able to do this. We could literally kill Rick at some point. I’m not going to say we are, but why not kill him? There’s no reason. The Walking Dead could easily survive without Rick, and I personally think it would be incredibly interesting. We could do it in some random issue where the reader isn’t expecting it, not like issue #150 or some anniversary issue. I think it would be very cool.”

The Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard, talking with Comic Book Resources about writer Robert Kirkman’s penchant for shocking readers in the popular horror comic

Robert Kirkman talks ‘The Walking Dead’ on ‘Conan’

kirkman-conan

Robert Kirkman appeared last night on TBS’s Conan to discuss all things Walking Dead, from his wife’s distaste for his zombie franchise to rejected merchandising opportunities — perfume! energy drinks! — to host Conan O’Brien’s nitpicks, including why there are no undead animals.

“The honest answer to that is, The Walking Dead is based on a comic book,” Kirkman replied, “the artist that draws the comic book, Charlie Adlard, loves drawing people, loves drawing zombies, does not enjoy drawing animals so much.”

Watch the clips below.

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The Walking Dead’s new online hub launches Sunday

The Walking Dead #106

Robert Kirkman and Skybound Entertainment will debut a new digital hub for the hit Walking Dead franchise on Sunday, timed to coincide with the midseason premiere of the television adaptation.

According to USA Today, TheWalkingDead.com will contain information about the long-running Image Comics series, the AMC drama and the growing list of games (which include the recent Telltale episodic series, the Walking Dead: Assault app and Activision’s upcoming Survival Instinct). In addition, there will be special-event updates, wikis for character biographies, and, of course, a store for exclusive merchandise. At the moment, fans have to visit multiple websites for that information.

AMC’s The Walking Dead returns Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC. The Walking Dead #107, by Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn, goes on sale Wednesday.


The secret to the record-breaking success of The Walking Dead

The second best-selling issue of The Walking Dead in 2012

Diamond Comic Distributors this week released its lists of the bestselling comics and graphic novels of 2012, and ahead of all the expected big titles from Marvel and DC was The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn. While the splashy headline is that The Walking Dead‘s 100th issue is the bestselling comic of the year — possibly of the past 15 years — what makes the achievement so remarkable is that the success is so thorough and consistent.

Not only did The Walking Dead top both the comic and the graphic novel lists, but nearly every conceivably qualifying product with the words The, Walking and Dead appears significantly high on both direct-market charts. Nine issues of the comic book are in the Top 300. In additional, all 17 volumes of the softcover trade paperback are among the Top 30 graphic novels, with Volume 1 claiming the top spot for the third year in a row. But wait, there’s more: Both oversized Compendiums, all eight hardcover collections and The Walking Dead Survivor’s Guide all appear elsewhere on the graphic novel chart. These are all remarkable achievements for an indie comic, and in many ways has primed the direct market for the success of Saga, Chew, Fatale and other titles that didn’t come from established franchises.

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Walking Dead #100 officially top-selling direct market comic of 2012

Just in case there were any lingering doubt, Diamond Comic Distributors has made it official: The landmark 100th issue of The Walking Dead was the top-selling comic in the direct market in 2012.

As we noted in August, the issue by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn set a new record for highest orders for a comic in a single month with an estimated 366,000 copies copies, beating The Amazing Spider-Man #583 (the Barack Obama issue, with 352,800 copies), the previous top seller for the 21st century, and The Darkness #11 (357,000), Image’s previous all-time top seller.

According to the distributor, comics book sales finished the year up nearly 15 percent over 2011, and graphic novels up more than 14 percent. Marvel was the top publisher, with a 34.06 percent dollar market share and a 37.59 percent unit market share. DC Comics followed at No. 2 with a 31.94 percent dollar market share and a 36.75 unit market share. Marvel also published nine of the Top 10 comics of 2012: Uncanny Avengers #1, Avengers vs. X-Men #1-6, The Amazing Spider-Man #700 and Avengers #1.

The Walking Dead, meanwhile, dominated the graphic novels chart, claiming seven of the Top 10 spots.

“2012 was a terrific year for comic books and graphic novels,” Diamond CEO Steve Geppi said in a statement. “Our publishers did a tremendous job of creating compelling storylines that comic book fans wanted to see – from Marvel’s Avengers vs. X-Men followed by its Marvel NOW! titles later in the year to DC’s powerful New 52 ongoing titles. Add in Dark Horse Comics’ horror line-up, IDW’s My Little Pony and Image Comics’ creator-driven hits and it was quite a year. In addition, I would like to mention what a wonderful job comic shop retailers did in 2012, by continuing to establish a great environment that readers and fans want to come and visit.”

What Are You Reading? with Gardner Linn and Dave Lentz

Signs and Meanings

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guests are Gardner Linn and Dave Lentz, the creative team behind the webcomic Registered Weapon — “the internet’s only webcomic starring a robotic cash register who fights crime.” They just kicked off their latest story, Case 006, on Nov. 12, and you can also download the first ten pages from their site if you prefer to read in bigger chunks.

To see what Gardner, Dave and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …

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The Walking Dead sees 39% sales increase in October

The Walking Dead #103 (Giarrusso variant)

The question of just how well The Walking Dead #103 performed in the direct market has been answered with Comic Book Resources’ sales estimates for October: 74,372 copies, a more than 39-percent increase from the previous issue and the biggest circulation gain of any title for the month. Mind you, that’s based only on copies sold by Diamond Comic Distributors to the North American direct market.

That jump thrust The Walking Dead from the No. 24 spot on Diamond’s Top 300 in September to No. 9 in October, marking only the second time the acclaimed Image Comics series by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard has cracked the Top 10. The previous instance occurred in July, when the milestone 100th issue seized the top spot with a record-breaking 366,000 copies (383,612 when you add other channels). However, aside from the auspiciousness of the occasion, that issue also benefited from 13 variant covers; Issue 103 had just one — Chris Giarrusso‘s adorable homage to the first issue (at right).

As we did last week, ICv2 gives part of the credit for the sales boost to the October premiere of the third season of the AMC television series. Now add that Issue 103 begins a new storyline — “a new beginning,” in the words of the solicitation text — which won’t be released in collected form until May.

Speaking of collections, a category in which the series thrives, the $60 Compendium Two was third in unit sales (an estimated 10,333 copies) but first in dollars; it was among the five Walking Dead collections in the Top 25 for October. The first volume, collecting issues originally released in 2003 and 2004, came in at No. 4 (with, again, 10,333 copies).

The Walking Dead returns to Diamond’s Top 10 … but why?

The Walking Dead #103 was No. 9 on Diamond Comic Distributors’ list of comics sold to the direct market in October, marking the rare breakthrough into the Top 10 by an independent title. The question, though, is why.

Sure, the landmark 100th issue of the acclaimed horror series by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard landed atop the sales chart in July with a record-breaking 335,000 copies, propelled by a whopping 13 variant covers, but Issue 103 had just one variant (Chris Giarrusso‘s adorable homage to the first issue).

While there are no sales estimates yet for The Walking Dead #103, we can look to the two previous issues for some comparison: August’s Issue 101 landed at No. 31 with an estimated 51,732 copies, followed in September by Issue 102 at No. 24 with 53,337 copies. Considering that ICv2 is reporting periodical sales increased 7.4 percent in October over the same month in 2011, we can safely say The Walking Dead #103 sold … significantly more than those two previous issues. Again, though, why?

It was billed as “a new beginning for The Walking Dead,” and “a perfect jumping-on point,” so perhaps we’re seeing the television effect that’s kept the collections at the top of the bookstore charts spilling into the single issues (the first volume, originally released in 2006, is a perennial bestseller). It’s certainly possible that, with AMC’s hit adaptation returning for its third season in October, viewers who had already consumed the trade paperbacks (and the retailers who sell them) took Image Comics at its word and jumped on the monthly series with Issue 103, pushing sales to somewhere well north of 53,000.

Next week, we should have a solid sales estimate, and with it a better idea of the title’s trajectory.

Telltale reveals details of Walking Dead video game retail release

Telltale Games has released details of the retail version of its Walking Dead video game, available in standard retail and collector’s editions in North America beginning Dec. 5.

The standard edition is, well, pretty standard, with$29.99 getting you what sounds like an entertaining adventure game set in the universe created by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard. The story begins while Rick Grimes is still in a coma, and follows Lee Everett, who takes under his win an orphaned girl named Clementine under his wing.

However, the GameStop Exclusive Collector’s Edition comes with The Walking Dead Compendium One, collecting the first 48 issue of the comic series, a special Collector’s Edition box featuring Adlard’s artwork, and a  game disc containing the entire first season. The Collector’s Edition is available for pre-order only for $69.99.

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The Walking Dead: The Musical (Come on, it’s bound to happen)

Given the relative ubiquity of The Walking Dead, which has moved from acclaimed comic series to hit television drama, collectible toys, prose novels, a magazine, board games and a video game, it’s probably only a matter of time before the property hits the stage. Make it happen, Robert Kirkman; we hear Julie Taymor is available.

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Hi-res look at Charlie Adlard’s variant covers for Walking Dead magazine

Earlier this month, Titan Magazines offered retailers a shot at exclusive variant covers created by Charlie Adlard for the first issue of The Walking Dead: The Official Magazine, a new quarterly publication that offers an inside look at the acclaimed comic series created by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Adlard, and the hit television drama it spawned. Now Titan has provided Robot 6 with high-resolution images of the winning covers for Comickaze Comics (5517 AB Clairemont Mesa Blvd., San Diego) and Wade’s Comic Madness (8750 New Falls Road, Levittown, Pennsylvania).

The magazine arrives in stores Oct. 23, on the heels of the Season 3 premiere of the AMC television series, but New York Comic Con attendees will have a chance to buy the issue with a convention-exclusive cover on Oct. 11.

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In ‘official’ tally, The Walking Dead #100 still tramples all other comics

John Jackson Miller takes a hard look at the July sales charts, starting by parsing the numbers for the month’s top seller, The Walking Dead #100. Diamond Comic Distributors estimates place sales of the regular comic at 335,000 copies, plus almost 31,000 of the $9.99 Chromium Edition. That’s a bit less than the 383,612 copies Image Comics announced, but as Miller notes, the Diamond numbers don’t include reorders, overseas sales, newsstand sales and other channels.

Anyway, just adding those first two numbers, U.S. direct-market sales of the regular issue and the variant cover, this comic sold 366,000 copies, setting a new record for the highest orders for a comic in a single month, handily beating The Amazing Spider-Man #583 (the Barack Obama issue), the previous top seller for the 21st century, and The Darkness #11, Image’s previous all-time top seller.

Miller spends a bit of time contemplating whether variant covers should be included in the one-month total. I paused to wonder how many of the variants are being bought by collectors who are picking up the standard cover as well, but in the end, a sale is a sale, regardless of why it occurs.

While all this is great news for Image, Miller makes an observation further down in the post that should give readers pause: “As reported last Friday, the market overall continued to percolate, up nearly 20% over the previous year. A gap is developing between the sales of the Top 300 graphic novels and graphic novel sales overall; the Top 300s for the last seven months are up 25% over last year, whereas everything in the category is only up 14%. That suggests a list that’s been top-heavy with unit volume and/or dollars.”

It would be interesting to take a closer look and see where the drop-off occurs; it may not be at 300, and if it’s further up the list, that would suggest a winners-and-losers scenario that could be bad news in the long run.

“You’re not sitting there going, ‘Oh, this is where Carl gets shot!’”

If you haven’t watched the second season of AMC’s The Walking Dead, you’ll probably want to skip this video, as it gives away a significant character death. But for everyone else who‘s up to date with the hit series (or else simply don’t care about spoilers), CraveOnline has an advance look at part of a bonus feature from the upcoming Blu-ray/DVD release in which creator Robert Kirkman examines how the television adaptation “stays faithful to the comic book but does it in a different way.” It’s an interesting video that compares and contrasts pages from the Image Comics series with sequences from the TV show.

The second season of The Walking Dead arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on Aug. 28.

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When’s the last time a non-Big Two comic topped the sales charts?

The Walking Dead #100 has already been trumpeted as the bestselling comic, in initial orders, since 1997, so it comes as absolutely no surprise that those 383,612 copies were more than enough to lead Diamond Comic Distributors’ Top 10 list for July. It’s the first time in its nearly nine-year run that the horror series by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard has topped the chart.

However, it also marks another milestone: It’s the first time in almost a decade that a comic published by a company other than Marvel or DC has claimed the top spot in the direct market. That honor, in November 2002, went to another Image title, Masters of the Universe #1, by Val Staples and Emiliano Santalucia. Of course, that comic sold about 270,000 fewer copies than the 100th issue of The Walking Dead, according to the invaluable Comichron archives.

Before that, though, the now-defunct Dreamwave Productions had a pretty good run, with its Transformers series leading the monthly sales charts for a full half of 2002.


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